Seven Secrets To Selling Books As Special Sales

selling books

Selling books to non-bookstore buyers — for employee perks, sales incentives, or add-on value — requires you adopt the seven “Cs” to find success.

My recent post, “The Seven Steps Of Book Sales To Non-Retail Buyers,” described how the trek to special-sales success can be long, arduous and frustrating — and profitable, as well. Through it all, a strong and determined attitude can serve as your book selling GPS on your path to success. There are several basic axioms in book marketing in general — and special sales in particular — that may have a negative impact on your attitude. If you can know in advance that these are going to occur, that negative impact may be reduced.

  • Rejection is part of the process. Be forewarned, you will be rejected far more times than you will be accepted, and this may wear away at your positive attitude. Don’t take rejection personally. That is easy to say, but it can be done if you accept rejection as an opportunity to learn, improve your strategy and tactics, and increase the likelihood that you will close the sale next time.
  • People make decisions on their schedules, not on yours. One of the problems with setting a sales objective is that it is based on your forecasts and your presumptions of what people will buy and when they will buy it. However, your potential customers do not know this. They only know what they want and when they want it. Their needs and deadlines may not coincide with yours. Your prospects may have promotions planned for next year and your book will fit nicely with them. That means they will not buy until next year, regardless of your goals and timelines.
  • The order is rarely as much as you had hoped. Buyers purchase what they need, not what you forecast. And since many buy on a non-returnable basis, they will likely not commit to a large quantity until it has proven successful.

Think of your attitude as you would the spokes of a wheel on an old Conestoga wagon. All the spokes must be in place if the wheel is to function properly for the length of the trip. If one or more of them is broken, the wheel could be crushed under the pressure of the wagon. Similarly, you have seven “spokes” to maintain for an effective book-marketing attitude. They enable you to remain competent, professional, enthusiastic and successful throughout your journey to sell your books in special markets. These seven “spokes” are:

1. Courage

It takes a little bravery to break free from your habits of selling only to bookstores. Leaving your comfort zone is never easy, yet it must be done. In special-sales marketing, it also takes courage to:

  • Seek assistance. You do not have to go through all this alone. For example, if you need sales help, hire a consultant or join an APSS Mastermind Group and benefit form OPM (other people’s minds).
  • Accept responsibility. Blaming unresponsive prospects for lost sales will not solve your problem. Discover what went wrong and then correct it.
  • Go on the offensive. At times you may feel as if you have lost control and that the potential customers hold all the cards. If you relinquish control of your actions, you will end up selling only to bookstores and libraries rather than soliciting new markets and opportunities.

One way to go on the offensive is to be assertive during negotiations. A sales call is analogous to a sporting event: you can only score when you have possession of the ball. If the interviewer controls the ball for the entire game, you may not get to make your presentation. If you simply “attend” a negotiation without actively participating, you will not score many points.

It takes valor to attempt something untried, and this is exactly what you must do to shake up your thinking and be creative in the action you take.

2. Commitment

Commitment is the knowledge that, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Commitment is also the ability to place your entire focus on the attainment of your objective. It is the discipline to continue trying in the face of adversity and rejection. Commitment is the understanding that you are not perfect, and therefore you must continue evaluating your results and trying different tactics, using trial-and-error and learning from your mistakes.

3. Competition

Rather than view this as a competition against others, you may be more successful if you direct your competition toward yourself. Challenge yourself to contact one more person per day this week than you did last week. Look for ways to make your selling skills better than they were yesterday, and do it again tomorrow. Seek one more idea to solve a problem. Attempt to improve yourself in some way, every day.

But don’t fall into the trap and feel your content is unique and you have no competition. Whatever your content, you are competing against other books for shelf space and share of wallet. And among corporate buyers, you may be competing against coffee mugs, umbrellas, golf shirts and other promotional items.

4. Confidence

Confidence is the ability to entrust yourself with your future. Self-confidence will bolster your courage to perform all the tasks you may be reluctant to do. It will enable you to make cold-calls in person or to pick up that “200-pound telephone” and make more sales calls.

Your path to self-publishing

5. Concentration

The most points scored in a football game are made in the last two minutes before the end of each half. The players are concentrating on getting the points on the board before time runs out. They are not thinking about what happens if they lose, but on scoring the points necessary to win. Play the special-sales game as if you are always in the last two minutes of the second half. Concentrate on the rewards of success, not the consequences of failure.

Progress in special sales has less to do with speed than it does with direction. Concentration serves as the compass with the arrow pointed directly and unfailingly at your goal.

6. Creativity

The dictionary defines creativity as, “to cause to exist; bring into being; originate.” If you are to be successful in special-sales marketing, you must cause opportunities to happen. There will be cases in which your prospective customers have never used books as a premium or sold books in their stores. Your creativity will serve you well by demonstrating to them how they could use books in new ways. Sell your romance novel to limousine services, or your book on leadership to coaches in high school or college sports. Find new ways to make sales happen.

7. Control

Some people define control as a restraining act, the need to hold back or curb something. But it is really a dynamic process, as you’d control a horse with the reins. It is the ability to recognize an opportunity that comes to you, evaluate it, and pursue it — even though it was not part of your original plan. Control requires adjustments to compensate for predictable and unforeseen circumstances as you move toward your objective. With control, you can apply your creativity professionally. It directs your commitment so you can pursue your goals. It helps you use your confidence for productive means. A controlled grip on your anxiety will give you the courage to continue with your efforts even after you have been rejected most of the time. And it ensures that you maintain your competitive edge.

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Work with the ideas presented here to control your attitude, then increase your sales and profitability in special-sales markets. Use what is good for you and your titles. Keep an open mind, look for new opportunities, and make things happen. It is all up to you.

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